Voters appeared to be sending a clear message to King County school districts Tuesday night in early returns of a special election: They’re OK with continuing to support basic school services, but they still don’t think it’s time to splurge on major construction.
With thousands of votes tallied, residents in Auburn, Federal Way and Renton were approving the renewal of property taxes to fund operations levies. But they were rejecting measures aimed at building maintenance, renovation and construction projects in each district.
In early returns, a two-year, $106 million operations-levy renewal in Federal Way was earning 56.2 percent of the vote — more than the majority required for approval. But only 44.9 percent of voters had supported a six-year, $60 million capital levy to mostly fund a major renovation of the aging Federal Way High School.
Similarly, 56.9 percent of Auburn votes counted were in support of a four-year, $146.4 million operations-levy renewal, but just 53.8 percent of voters had given the OK for a $110 million bond measure to mostly pay for modernizing Auburn High School. Bond measures require 60 percent for approval.
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In Renton, a four-year, $163 million operations-levy renewal was receiving 60.1 percent of the vote and a four-year, $21 million renewal levy for technology was earning 59 percent. But just 56.6 percent of early voters had approved a $97.million bond measure to mostly fund the construction of a new middle school in the northern part of the district.
Two smaller measures — a four-year, $41.4 million operations-levy renewal in Tukwila and a four-year, $3.6 million capital-levy renewal in Vashon Island — were each passing with more than 65 percent approval.
Final results won’t be certified until Feb. 28.